The first lesson a baby teaches their parents is how to be patient. Most of the time, we learn patience before they are even born. The lesson is taught even earlier for parents who have a difficult time trying to conceive.
This is the story of how my husband and I learned patience from Leigh Nathaniel.
Our baby consistently measured big- like 99th percentile big. My doctor kept a close eye on his size during ultrasounds and regular appointments. As we crept closer to week 40, we had the talk. His measurements were so big, they became a concern. A natural birth had risks of shoulder distoia, if the head could get through at all. My doctor said that if I didn’t go into labor by my due date, we should commit to an elective cesarean section. It was a safer route. I cried a lot when we got this news. We spent a week thinking about it, trying to absorb the idea that our natural birth plan wasn’t going to happen.
We went back to the doctor a week later and even though my uterus was then measuring at 42 weeks, we told her we wanted to wait for him. It was only fair to give him the extra few days he might need to decide the time is right for his arrival. We agreed on an induction the day after his due date: March 22.
So we anxiously waited for me to go into labor. My husband searched the Internet for all the old wives tale ways to naturally induce labor. We tried it all. Eat fresh pineapple, drink cinnamon tea, eat spicy foods like tom yum soup and buffalo chicken wings. We were desperate. The doctor laughed when we told her what we were doing. She suggested long walks and nipple stimulation. The walking physically helped move the baby downward, hoping to break my bag of waters and nipple stimulation helps release a hormone called oxytocin, which sets off labor. And like I said, we tried it all! Patience perseveres.
It wasn’t until a half and hour after his due date had come and gone that he decided it was time to come out. All that patience was paying off. The doctor had stripped my membranes at my final prenatal appointment earlier that day. This was also supposed to start labor, but she had done it the week before to no resolve, so we didn’t have hope that it would have an affect this time.
I had just fallen asleep at midnight. My alarm was set for 4am because we had a 6am induction scheduled. My husband tells me that around 12:30am I turned over in bed while sleeping only two minutes before I called out, “Eric, my water broke!” I had been sleeping on towels for weeks, so with tears on our eyes from disbelief that this was actually happening naturally, we quickly cleaned up, took showers, ate toast and drove to the hospital.
We checked in through the ER at 2:30am. Labor and delivery quickly admitted me and got me set up in a delivery room. They had all my paperwork ready because I was supposed to be induced later that morning. Since my bag of waters had broken, a timer had essentially started due to an increased a risk of infection. The baby was no longer sealed in his safe bag of fluids. He needed to get out soon. We were so excited by how perfectly it all came together. Man, we had no idea.
With the help of some pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin that stimulates contractions), we labored together until 5:45am. My husband rubbed my lower back as I gripped the hospital bed rails through each contraction until I received some lovely pain medication. I knew there was a good chance that his big head was not going to feel good coming out, so I went in wanting an epidural before we started pushing. And don’t you know it, within 30 minutes of the procedure, I had dilated to 10cm and was ready to push at 6:30am.
Of course that naturally means the doctors weren’t ready for me to push. They had a lot going on that morning. The woman in the room next to me was naturally giving birth to twins and she got there before me, so she had dibs. Just a little more patience was needed. We labored down for at least an hour until a doctor could confirm that pushing was a good idea. Then we spent an hour and a half trying to push out what we now know was a 9lb, 6oz baby. All the pushing did was lodge him deeper into a stuck position in my pelvis. The doctor confirmed that he didn’t look like he’s was going to make his premiere through the natural route.
There were a lot of other babies born that morning, so even for a c-section, I’d have to wait a few hours for my turn. Even more patience required. The doctor left us with a decision: labor down some more, hoping that my pelvis softened up enough to squeeze that big head through or commit to a c-section. We thought about what we should do. I prayed for guidance. Even though it was not the most appealing option for me, the mom, the c-section was the safest route for baby.
I don’t regret the decisions we made that day. Everything worked out the way it was supposed to and both baby and I are happy and healthy. That is all that matters. It’s not what we had planned, but by the end of the day, we’d have the little boy we’d been waiting months for in our arms.
The moment we told the labor nurse about our decision, things went into motion to prepare for the operation. I had never been a hospital patient before. IVs, machines, needles, bags of fluids. Everything was foreign to me but I wasn’t scared because I trusted the doctors. And my husband was by my side the entire time. He was a rock star through this entire experience. I couldn’t have done it without him.
I was wheeled in to the operating room at 2:20pm. Leigh Nathaniel was born at 3:10pm, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. My husband left my side during the operation to be with our son as they cleaned him, measured him, and evaluated his health. He was a very healthy baby. They both sat next to me as they stitched me up. I remember crying the happiest tears at the sight of them together for the first time. It was the most beautiful thing.
My operation took longer than expected. Because we pushed, Leigh’s head was stuck in my pelvis. They had to use a vacuum to get his head out. I had never heard of a vacuum-assisted c-section, but it happens apparently. While trying to remove him, my uterine wall accidentally ripped down both sides. Doctors acted quickly to get him out so they could stop my bleeding. I remember feeling a lot of pressure and every time I expressed that, the anesthesiologist upped my pain meds until I fell asleep. My husband said my pulse dipped low for only a second and that there was a lot of blood everywhere. But he hung in there. And before we knew it, our family was recovering in triage together. Our moms came in one at a time to meet their first grand baby. Even though I was drugged up and swollen, it was a beautiful moment that I’ll never forget.
Leigh was in no rush to get here. He took his sweet time baking inside me. I don’t blame him and part of me wishes he could have stayed safe in my belly forever. Now that he’s in our arms, it’s like he’s always been here. He taught us that some things are worth the wait.